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Area Dining: Lost Lake's community outreach through pasta

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Flor Molero (left) and Brian Plum talk to the audience about making homemade pasta. The new husband and wife executive chefs at Lost Lake Lodge are working hard to connect with the community in their first year in the lakes area. 2 / 3
A black pasta made from squid ink was one of the final dishes created for the pasta making class at Lost Lake Lodge in Lake Shore.3 / 3

A small group of do-it-yourself chefs sat salivating Wednesday.

Brian Plum and Flor Molero captivated elementary aged audience members and intrigued older learners during their inaugural cooking class at Lost Lake Lodge in Lake Shore.

The subject: homemade pasta. The result: Too many "mmms" and "aahhs" to quote.

The new husband and wife executive chef team of Plum and Molero at the small resort on the Gull Lake Narrows went over pasta making basics for one of their early attempts to connect with lakes area eaters.

Plum, originally from Florida, and Melero, a native of Peru, entertained the crowd with humor, history, pasta-making know-how and hands-on learning that had one of the younger audience members asking when the next class might be.

It's part of the couples' goal to immerse itself into the lakes area culture and community. From the start of their tenure at Lost Lake about two months ago, the two made it their mission to first work with as many local food producers as they could find and then connect with customers, whether they be resort guests or year-long residents, on a face-to-face level.

The first class, titled La Amour De Pasta, or the love of pasta, went from scientific, to technique to delicious in two hours.

Plum began with his own pasta dough recipe and explained the different flours he uses and why. He also stressed the use of farm fresh eggs instead of store products and showed the audience the keys to combining the different ingredients. The point he stressed most was to not be intimidated.

"Pasta is something that I really like," Plum said. "It's something that I've been making for years. I learned to make it at a restaurant called Primo, where I would make pasta from anywhere between four to six hours a day, five days a week for a long time.

"Pasta is a very simple thing to make. Never let it dishearten you or get scared to make. It's very easy."

One piece of advice or investment Plum recommended for home pasta making was a KitchenAid mixer because his recipe of one part semolina and two parts bread flour is very strong and thick and difficult to work with by hand.

Plum showed how to make normal looking pasta dough and then wowed the crowd with his squid ink recipe that made black pasta dough. He also explained the combination of parsley and spinach to make a green pasta.

After the dough was made, and still showing off his KitchenAid, Plum used different attachments to the machine that first helped him roll the dough and then create the many shapes he uses in the restaurant and at home.

For the class, Plum first showed how to make tagliatelle, or a wide, flat noodle, that was later used in a carbonara with house-smoked, thick-cut bacon.

Afterward, the group learned how to make orecchiette, ravioli and tortellini. The class then dug in by filling and folding the tortellini with a housemade butternut squash filling Molero later showed how to create.

The 11 sets of hands worked diligently to create about 70 stuffed tortellini that the group later ate with a delicate butter sauce and shrimp.

"That's the wonderful thing about cooking pasta at home," Molero said. "Especially, when you have holidays with your family. I think it's a very good time to do something like this because it brings everybody together and it creates that environment that family is very important and holiday are very important."

The final dish created for the group of hungry learners was the black squid pasta with a green sauce created from carrot greens or leaves.

After a round of applause, the topic immediately turned to when the next classes would be. And the answer was 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. July 12 at Lost Lake Lodge with the topic of southern style summer barbecue. Plum and Molero will repeat the pasta making class July 18. Each class is $24.99 per person and pre-registration is required.

Jeremy Millsop
My career at the Brainerd Dispatch began May 11, 1999 after graduating from North Dakota State University. My areas of emphasis includes local high school sports, Central Lakes College, the lakes area golf mecca and once a year I dabble in the NHRA when the Lucas Oil Nationals come to Brainerd International Raceway.
(218) 855-5856